Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Sip Or Mix takes on Key Combier Products

Sip Or Mix is an independent Importing, Distribution and Brand Management company based in central London. The company focus is on Small Batch, Hand-Crafted, Artisanal and Authentic Spirits and Liqueurs. The current portfolio consists of; St Nicholas Abbey Rum, SW4 London Dry Gin, La Maison Fontaine Absinthe and Jade Liqueurs.

Sip Or Mix is very pleased to announce they are now adding some key Combier products to their portfolio.

The Combier Distillery in 2012 - designed by Gustave Eiffel

COMBIER is the oldest distillery of the Loire Valley which is still active today and dates back to 1834. Jean Baptiste COMBIER and his wife were confectioners who wanted to add a little something 'extra' to their sweets in the way of a new flavoured liqueur. They consequently developed the worlds first Triple Sec which became so popular they gave up the confectionery side of the business to distill full-time.

“TRIPLE SEC” (an orange liqueur) nowadays named l’Original Combier

Dried bitter orange peels from Haiti and dried sweet orange peels from Valencia are still used today just as they were back in the 1830's. They are soaked in water overnight and are stripped by hand of the very bitter pith. These peels are then macerated in alcohol and run through the 130 year old alembic copper pot stills pictured above. Only the "heart" of the distillation is used which is then run through the alembics a second time. (Originally they would have produced the base spirit at the distillery as well, hence the name "Triple Sec" or "triple distilled") Sugar crystals are added and the distillate is finally reduced to 40% when bottled. In these modern times it's tempting to streamline production, buy cheaper ingredients and seek to cut costs through better technology. While we must admit that this is necessary for some producers in the 21st Century, it's always rewarding to come across a producer who retains an attention to detail and historical accuracy such as at Combier. The very first "Triple Sec" is consequently as close as possible to its' original recipe today, as it was back in the 1830's.

 “ELIXIR COMBIER” (a plants liqueur)

Another Combier product true to its historical roots is the newly re-released Élixir Combier dating from 1852.

"Jean Baptiste Combier’s acclaimed 19th century Élixir Combier is an exotic blend of herbs, plants and other botanicals from France’s Loire Valley, Africa, India and Southeast of Asia. It is unearthed anew from Combier’s 177 year old distillery’s very own private archives after having been discontinued for decades since its creation in 1852."

It's clear from the reproduced label that this indeed was very popular back in its heyday, it's festooned with medals; Angers 1852, Laval 1852 & 1857, Lemans 1857, Bordeaux 1859 & 1863 plus many more. Élixir Combier even seems to have played a role at the famous "Exhibition Philadelphie" of 1876 - the United States first World's Fair celebrating 100 years of Independence.
Élixir Combier is labelled as a "Liqueur Hygienique De Dessert"

Liqueur and Dessert suggest sweetness and after dinner.  'Hygienic' in this sense is simply a generic term for promoting and preserving health. Unlike some other 19th century 'preparations' wild health giving claims Élixir Combier was simply used as a pleasant tasting, after dinner digestif.  
The botanical mix is both exotic and eclectic with things like saffron, fennel and even myrrh - all of which were known for their respective healing properties in the 19th Century.

Royal Combier

"Royal Combier was created in 1910 by James Combier. Much appreciated by connoisseur drinkers in Europe it is blended from Combier’s old Elixir Combier, a type of « cure-all » medicinal plant drink very fashionable in the 19th century, and distilled sweet-orange spirits and Cognac. Its primary elixir base is strictly prepared following Jean-Baptiste Combier’s Elixir Combier recipe, a bitter tasting plant-based recipe typical of 19th century elixirs. Following Jame’s Combier 1910 changes to his father’s original recipe, several spices including Angelica, Saffron, Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Cloves are added to the elixir base. In keeping with James Combier’s 1910 indications, a separate distillation of sweet-orange spirits is also combined to soften the original plant-based infusion and create a sweeter, subtler liqueur where final character is bestowed by a touch of Cognac."

Doppelt Combier Kummel Extra

Kummel has been around since the late 1500's and is interchanged with meaning either Caraway or Cumin. Combier first made Kummel back in the 1850's and have again re-released an historically authentic product from their recipe archives of the 19th Century.

Doppelt Combier Kummel Extra is a blend of Caraway, Cumin and Fennel. 'Doppelt' translates as 'double' and simply means double the standard botanical bill is used which adds intensity and concentration of flavour. I would suggest that 'extra' simply means the sugar content and therefore the Kummel qualifies as a liqueur, even if it does weigh in at 38% abv. 

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